Dead Legs

CATHARPIN, VA

The last day of Bike Virginia, I had to decide to ride with my cousin, Kay Walborn, one last time, my friends, John Dockins or Vince Amodeo, or something different. Initially I thought I’d roll out with Bike Virginia until the 50 mile mark then head home and ride another 60 miles. In the end I decided to just ride home – a distance of 70-80 miles, depending on which roads I took.

The Bike Virginia folks rolled out starting at 7:00 a.m. and at 7:44 a.m. I got a message from John:

   “Major crash. Road closed. Car hit bike.” 

   “Very somber ride today. People have seen chest compressions on the biker.

I was glad not to be in the group today. I can ride comfortably as one or one in the 2,000. I took the roads I knew and ended up on Kabletown Road. I was surprised when after pulling over to check the message from John a Bike Virginia rider pulled up and asked me if she was on the right road. She must have left at 6:00 a.m. I assured her she was.

Kabletown Road was part of the Bike Virginia route but not until their Mile 40 or so. I simply took a short cut from Ashley’s place over to it to get me home and expected to see no one today since that would put me far in front of the event.

With today’s route one could not get lost. Headed south, you are bordered on the east by the Shenandoah River, on the west by Rte 340, and on the south by Rte 7. Either 340 or 7 takes one to Berryville, the ending location.

But that should not be an issue. Bike Virginia had perhaps the best signage of any supported event I have been on, except perhaps Livestrong-Philly. Up at 4:30 a.m., volunteers were placing signs and cones, and even using some flagmen (and flag women) at dangerous locations.

I continued on, passing the rider, and was first to arrive at the last rest stop of the ride, Moose Apple Christmas Tree Farm.

Moss Apple Christmas Tree Farm

The owner was a retired teacher from Fairfax Co. He has 25,000 trees planted. And sells some stain glass and other crafts on the side. It’s a real neat place. I even passed a turkey going in.

At 8:45 a.m., I was almost two hours ahead of the planned arrival and they were surprised and honored me. They took pictures of this rider. Number One!

I stayed for close to an hour, almost feeling that I had to stay until other riders showed up. Within an hour one did, then another, then my friend John. After a few more minutes it was time to go.

It was bittersweet that I was leaving Bike Virginia. I turned off the route and was now unsupported.

Note to self: The two mile section one has to ride on Route 7 eastbound is very scary. I’m thinking Rte 9 may be safer, especially once the new bypass is in and most of the traffic is off it.

I followed Rte 7 to Snickersville Turnpike and don’t remember a rougher time climbing. I had dead legs. They weren’t sore or didn’t ache. They were just dead. No power. And Snickersville is not flat. It has lots of steep drops and steep climbs. Ugh.

I thought I’d try Rte 234 – Sudley Road and that wasn’t the best option either. No shoulder and 55 mph traffic. At 52 miles in, I heard something break and immediately stopped. It was a spoke on the rear wheel.

With nowhere to go, I could not repair it, I called a cab for the final 27 miles. And fell asleep in someone’s yard.

EPILOGUE — The cyclist died.

The cyclist, a Corning, N.Y., man taking part in the Bike Virginia Tour was in critical condition at Winchester Medical Center Wednesday afternoon after having a heart attack while bicycling through Jefferson County, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department. He died at the Winchester Medical Center late Wednesday night.

It is a somber reminder that this sport that I love is inherently dangerous. And there, but for the Grace of God, go I. Hit by a car with an awkward fall on Saturday, I could have landed badly and died. And faced with what must have been a slow speed crossing of those tracks, it was a freak accident that his awkward landing may have induced his cardiac arrest.

Rest in Peace, Mr. Mark Hogan.  🙁

Live each day to the fullest. And enjoy the journey.

Riding for Jake

CHARLES TOWN, WV
I was excited this morning because I wanted to take a page out of the book of my friends doing the 4K for Cancer ride across the United States. Each day these 90 young people write the name of a cancer patient or survivor or someone who has lost the battle on their calves. I had my son-in-law, Bryan Snow, write the name of Jake Grecco, a true super hero, on my calves.
Just 8 years old and battling brain cancer, Jake has taken chemo, radiation, and even brain surgery in stride. Weakened by my lengthy rides, I felt energized today riding with Jake’s name on my calves.
I arranged to meet with old friend and co-worker, John Dockins, in front of the Trek Tent, and we rolled out at 7:30 a.m. On the road he started to hammer it although we settled into a good pace (which means we passed everybody) but we were joined by two others. For the first 15 miles four of us worked together in the heavy winds, which would be present all day.
Following a tractor. You know, we go the same speed
as a tractor but nobody yells or throws things at a tractor.
We had caught a tractor pulling some machinery at 20-22 mph. Perfect. We pulled in behind him and he created the perfect wind block. We rode in his draft for about two miles before he turned off. Rest Stop #1 was at the Summit Point Raceway. It was pretty cool. Some riders took to the race track for extra miles.
Rest Stop at Summit Point
Rolling out of the rest stop, we formed a new group with some men and women and hammered home with them. After the second rest stop, it got real funky.
Almost from the start today my legs hadn’t recovered. I thought my body was weakening having ridden 300 miles in three days.
John took off from Rest Stop #2 dropping me. I was never more than 50-100 meters behind him but there the two of us went, passing everyone along the way, John, followed by me, trailing 50-100 meters later. The wind was very heavy and John seemed stronger cutting through the wind than I did. I chased for six miles, never pulling him back but never closing the gap. And I was getting pissed.
I wondered what he was thinking and later he said he thought I had dropped back to talk to some people and would catch him when I wanted to. I wasn’t buying that. In this wind he was stronger.
John Dockins, Barry Sherry
Although the two of us had been passing people for six miles, I was going nowhere until I was passed by two riders. That quickly became three when I jumped on their wheels. Perfect. 
It was the perfect tow back up to John. As we got ready to pass him I tried to sneak past without him seeing me. But he did and he jumped on and briefly made four in our group.
But shortly after that the two guys in front passed a car that was going slow up a hill and I joined them. John initially came but clunked his gears and he was gone. Just like that.
If John truly thought that I was behind him and could catch him anytime I feel like it what I did then was a crappy move. But if he was going full out in the wind without regard for his friend then it was payback. Big time.
We joined up with some other riders and alternated the workload. One guy came to the front with about three miles to go to the rest stop and hammered it. He was a big rider and was “nose in the wind” going about 23 mph. I sat second wheel and felt like half the time I was coasting.
This guy (left) rocked it! Best “pull” of the five days.
After a lunch break, we hit the road. After 43 miles of hammering, it was time for solo work. John and I left the rest stop for one mile then he would take the cutoff road and skip the climbing loop. I turned onto the climb. It was a formidable two and a half mile hill, and one by one I started passing people on the climb. I’m sure I didn’t catch everyone, but I passed five or six and wasn’t passed by anyone.
Once over the top I bombed the descent and caught and passed 15-20 riders in the valley leading to the next rest stop.
At the stop one woman saw Jake’s name on my legs and made a smart ass comment: “Do you name your shoes too so you can get the right legs in the right shoes?”

I was pissed. And hurt. I told her quietly that I was riding for my 8-year old cousin who was battling brain cancer.

I carried that with me the rest of the ride. The thought was we need fewer smart asses in this world and more compassion. I wanted to tell her off but the comment was made by, well, a smart ass trying to be funny and not with malice. Her group took off while I sat down and ate some food.

When I left the rest stop I wanted nothing more than to catch the woman who insulted my family. They were long gone but I that didn’t stop me from trying.

I immediately hit the next hill. It was a shorter, one and a half miles, but steeper climb. There I passed by 10-15 riders on the climb and, over the top, bombed the descent. Once in the valley I started reeling in riders in front of me – maybe another 30.
Going through Martinsburg was like old home week to me since I know the area pretty well. Hitting the bike trail outside of town I passed 40-50 riders and was passed by none. I really felt strong in miles 80-90. Seriously, in the last 40 miles I was passed by no one.

Getting back, I sat down and ate lunch at the Bike Virginia campus. When it was time to roll out I needed 10 more miles for 100 and 15 for 400 for four days. As good as I felt in miles 80-90, I felt that bad for the next 10 miles. It hit me. I was tired. But I was riding for Jake. And I would finish.
I added enough miles to give me another century then went to Ashley and Bryan’s place and laid down on the floor. I fell asleep. Three centuries in four days. Four hundred miles in four days.

I was very tired.

It’s About the Journey

CHARLES TOWN, WV

Day 3 of Bike Virginia and I didn’t know what the day would hold. And that was part of the fun. I had seen my friend, Vince Amodeo, and had texted my friend, John Dockins, but had not yet seen him.

Tents at the Middle School
Flowing Springs Rd in the background

I rolled out and over to the Bike Virginia campus. I thought I’d meet my cousin, Kay Walborn, but she wasn’t out and on the road yet when I rolled out. So I took off by myself.

Riders turning off Flowing Springs Road

On the road I teamed up with some riders and ended up having a slow day – truly enjoying the journey, as I like to say. The first rest stop, after a harrowing ride on U.S. 11 going to Williamsport, Maryland, was at the Williamsport United Methodist Church. Most rest stops had the same water and Gatorade, fruit and snacks. I suspect Bike Virginia buys the food and the rest stop simply provides the space and volunteers.

Outside the church they had a “blessing of the bikes.” I skipped it since I had already been hit. Inside the church they served noodle soup, fried potatoes, and hot donuts, in addition to the normal fare. Bike Virginia also sponsored a contest for best rest area and this one got my vote. Extra points for not subjecting us to live bluegrass music too.*

Part of the journey was swimming in the Potomac River, although my participation was limited to wading. I didn’t want a squishy butt full of river water in my shorts.

But a number of people did.

Some of these roads were new to me and some weren’t. But most were new to the riders around me and they loved the road in Antietam National Battlefield. Perfect asphalt and no traffic. Nice.

We rode through the park then stopped for a photo op.

Antietam Battlefield

Actually, I was waiting for the all clear sign so that I could absolutely bomb the descent. I put my gear in the big ring and pedaled hard and got in my tuck. It felt like 50 mph. I looked down and my Garmin was — off.

Oh well. I will have to come back on my own and try that one again. The road is perfect – smooth pavement, no traffic, straight as an arrow down then rises on the other side. No turns.

After lunch in Sharpsburg, those cyclists “in the know” went back to Nutters for ice cream. It was an excellent way to finish.

At the end of the day I turned a planned 57-mile ride into a 73-mile ride but didn’t feel like stretching it beyond that.

_________
*EPILOGUE – This rest stop did win best rest stop award. Noodle soup, hot fried potatoes, and freshly cooked donuts in addition to the blessing of the bikes. Wonderful job!

A Double Triple

CHARLES TOWN, WV

After being struck by a car I wanted to go home yesterday but ended up getting a wheel repair at the local Trek bike store. At no charge. That always helps.

The newly trued wheel rolled well and I was thankful for the coolness of the morning air to ride. But I also thought of the bike and remembered that a carbon fiber bike must be checked out before being ridden again after a crash. While I was thankful the local Trek store fixed my wheel I wish the mechanic would have asked to check out the bike. I was in no frame of mind to think to ask him to do that.

Trek Guy checking the bike

Arriving in Berryville, I found the on-site Trek guy who checked out the bike and was able to reposition the shifters. He gave the bike a clean bill of health. And he gave me peace of mind.

I felt as though I was the last to leave Berryville and instantly began to catch and pass everyone. It would be one of those days where I would pass everyone and not get passed. Period.

After making my way through the first group of riders I passed five riders stopped along the side of the road, all supervising some poor schmuck trying to fix his bike. I asked if they needed one more person to watch and they said yes. So I stopped.  Poor guy had a broken chain and other than making a phone call (for SAG support), I couldn’t help, but by then all those slow, old (my age) people came rolling by so I let them pass then worked my way through them again.

When I passed a rider named Karen, she jumped on my wheel and followed me. She announced her presence and stated that I was the right speed to follow. And she did. For a while. Then she admitted I was too fast but I backed it off and we rode together and picked up some other riders as well.
At Rest Stop Number 1, I saw a family with young children in cycling gear. How cute. As they were getting ready to leave I talked to them. I told them I saw a family down at River Ride on the Northern Neck about five years ago who had a triple Co-Motion bike with dad and two daughters on it while the mother pulled a — “Burley Trailer,” everyone pretty much said in unison.

“That was us,” replied the mom. The family is from Front Royal, Virginia.

My memory of that day was seeing this extremely cute family pull in and the youngest girl was sound asleep — head over folded arms on the handlebars — with her feet clipped into the pedals going in circles.

The older daughter said “yep, that was Kylie.  She can do that”*

But now there were six. They’ve added to their cycling family. Three on dad’s bike and three on mom’s. How very cute. A double triple.

They left the rest stop before I did and although I caught them on Kabletown Road, I didn’t see them the rest of the day. Hopefully I will see them again.

The route would zigzag around Charles Town on some of the roads I had ridden down to Berryville to the start. I was almost getting dizzy going in a circle. Like yesterday, my cousin, Kay Walborn, started earlier than I could, and from Berryville.

Although this was billed as a recreational touring ride and not a place for pace lines, occasional lines formed and it was fun riding just a little faster with other people. Or a lot faster than other people. I had missed out on that yesterday except for the first 10 miles or so when I had jumped in with a group of four.

But today I rode with a woman and her dad for a while, and also with Paul from Allentown, Pa., plus Karen from Ashville, N.C. At the lunch stop around Mile 48 (my mile 68) I had caught my cousin, Kay Walborn, and we then rode together the optional 20 mile loop. Near the end of the ride, I was ahead of Kay and her friend, Wanda, on Job Corps Road, when I was left shaken. 

While descending a hill, I was doing about 30 mph and was hugging the white line at the edge of the road. There was no shoulder. Then I heard it. A large diesel pickup truck was barreling down on me and wanting to pass. But there was an oncoming car and hardly room for three of us. He gunned it.

I was over as far as I could get and the truck passed within inches. Kay told me that the truck missed my head by two inches. What is it? Two accidents in two days?

When we finished I had 90 miles so it was easy to get 100 before going back to Bethany’s. 

Barry, Kay, some jerk in the background

Two Days. Two Centuries.

___
*I’m not sure of the daughter’s name – but let’s go with Kylie.

Struck by a Car

CHARLES TOWN, WV

The day started with promise. Attending Bike Virginia, I biked 20 miles from Charles Town to the event’s registration in Berryville, Va. 

Once on the road I reset my odometer so not to remind myself that I had ridden 20 miles farther than anyone else. And it worked.

I was surprised that at a park and swimming pool at Mile 80 near Winchester I ran into my friend Vince Amodeo. I had been chasing my cousin, Kay Walborn, for these 80 miles and had given up finding her.

Vince Amodeo

I said goodbye to Vince and sat down to text Kay. We had been texting at each rest stop and I had no idea I was close. My legs felt like it was 80 miles, not 100, and then I heard her call my name. I had caught her. What a nice surprise. We rolled out together and rode together for six miles before I broke from the route and headed back to Charles Town.

In Charles Town, as I came up Washington Street, a car started to overtake me at an intersection. This is a common occurrence and I didn’t think much of it. As I went straight the driver got just far enough in front of me then she whipped the car to the right and made a right turn. Into me. The classic right hook. 
I tried to evade her by turning sharper but I couldn’t. She hit me and sent me flying.

I remember nothing after being contacted by her car until I was on the ground. My shoulders and back seemed to take the worst of it and I lay on the street in pain with my bike on top of me, still clipped into the left pedal.

I had ridden 115 miles, my farthest ever, and combined with the heat, 86 degrees, and the effort to get up the rise before the intersection, I was breathing heavy. Laying on my back I was afraid to open my eyes. I was scared.

I was breathing very heavy and heard the woman who hit me scream at me. “DIDN’T YOU SEE MY SIGNAL!!!” “DIDN’T YOU SEE MY SIGNAL!!!”

I paid her no attention and within another minute a passerby stopped her car and came to my assistance. If I had any idea of getting to my feet she made sure that I was to remain immobile. In fact, she held me around my shoulders so I wouldn’t move. And I was too weak to fight.
Another passerby tried to unclip my shoes. And in the moment, I could not remember how to release them. I was afraid they were going to cut them off. Not my Louis Garneaus!

An ambulance arrived pretty quickly followed by the police and then a firetruck. As the paramedics attended to me the woman who had been attending, also a paramedic, introduced herself to them. I was holding the back of my leg, not because I was injured but because the position I was in, combined with riding 115 miles in the heat, was causing me to cramp.


She told the paramedic crew that I was cramping because I had ridden 15 miles. “115 miles,” I corrected her, and I threw water on her.
They extricated me from my bike and moved it next to a building. They helped me to my feet then checked vitals, checking to see if I was dizzy. I could move everything but was sore from the crash. I had some road rash but it wasn’t bad. I refused a trip to the emergency room in the ambulance.
My handlebar tape was torn and the shifters were out of place. I was able to forcibly realign one mostly. Against the wishes of, well, everyone there, I decided I would keep on riding.
As I got close to Bethany’s I noticed the front wheel was wobbling. More damage which I hadn’t seen.
I was shaken up and really just wanted to go home. End my five day Bike Virginia trip after one day.

I set a new personal best for miles ridden in one day: 119.2, and would have gone farther except for the crash. But my bike and I were sore and beat up.

Bethany reminded me that there was a bike store in Charles Town and I took my bike there. It was Three Points Cycle and the manager/owner on duty couldn’t be nicer. He looked at me, still walking in a daze, listened to my story and told me he grew up in Woodbridge. He attended Gar-Field H.S. He took my front wheel and trued it. No charge. I started feeling better.

But I was still shaken.

It sucks to get hit by a car.

Wendel of York

YORK, PENNSYLVANIA

Before I rode many miles on the road I rode many miles on the trail. I returned to the trail today. It is different than road riding but a more relaxed ride since the only cars one has to worry about are when you cross roads.

 

York is an ancestral home for me. My 5th-great-grandfather, Wendel Laumeister, arrived from Germany aboard the ship Priscilla in Philadelphia in 1750 and settled in York. My 4th-great, Frederick Laumeister, and 3rd-great, George Lowmaster, were born there. George would later leave York and settle in Indiana Co., Pennsylvania.

The York Heritage Trail is a crushed limestone trail that runs next to a rail line
for 21 miles to the Mason Dixon line where it becomes the Torrey C. Brown Rail Trail in Maryland. In Pennsylvania it parallels the former Northern Central Railway but the tracks end at the Maryland line. While signs and some websites warn it is an active railroad, it isn’t. Well, I didn’t expect it to be.

 

I brought out the mountain bike with fat tires although I saw a few road bikes on the trail. None passed me though and there were sections the gravel or sand would have presented some tough steering.

Around Mile 7 I was passed by maintenance car (speedster) on the track coming from another direction. And a second. And a third. Maybe ten in all. The occupants in the cars didn’t look like railroad workers.  And some of the cars looked old while others looked like they just rolled out of the factory. It was a strange site.

The Heritage Trail is a beautiful wooded trail that goes through miles of forest and passes some farmland. Unlike the Great Allegheny Passage which I have ridden many times, there are no stunning vistas looking out over the valleys nor high trestles. There is but one tunnel, the Howard tunnel.

New Freedom, Pa.

I had gone one mile and realized that my water bottles were on my road bike – back in the van. I worried about riding the entire 42 miles (round trip) but it was cool (60s) when I left so I wasn’t too worried. At 10 miles I passed a bike shop on the trail and knew I could stop there on the way back.

After seeing the bike shop at Seven Valleys, I came upon more potential stops. Glen Rock presented a few places to stop and shop if I wanted to, and New Freedom had a beautifully restored train station with two cabooses, painted in the Pennsylvania Railroad colors. And clean restrooms.

After New Freedom the tracks end and the grade turns down for a mile to the Mason Dixon line. There I turned around to go back.

Back at the Howard Tunnel the speedsters were all stopped and I heard a cyclist ask how one get ride one of those. One of the guys said “you had to buy one of these 18 years ago.”

And thus I learned that the speedsters were all phased out by the railroads, replaced with pickup trucks that run on the rails. Many railroads dumped these cars for $25-$100 just to have someone haul them away. Private individuals bought these cars, refurbished some, and now have organized group rides on railroads. This railroad is perfect since the tracks are still in place but apparently no rail traffic runs on it. It would be interesting to know if they run every Sunday. Note: They were probably members of North Central Railcar Association.

I doubt that I find out. This was a nice trail but not one I would normally plan to return to.

 

Christ Lutheran Church

Back in York I went searching for Christ Lutheran Church. This church, founded in 1733, was one my ancestors were affiliated with. Found it. Walked around a bit, even through the old cemetery which has been encroached by a parking lot.

 

I don’t know that any of my ancestors are buried there and most of the stones were impossible to read.  But it certainly was a nice way to end a bike ride.

 

FUCANCER Doesn’t Quit

CRYSTAL CITY, VIRGINIA

My third year in a row for the Air Force Crystal Classic. Two years ago I rode on my own and my timing chip on my shoe didn’t work. It had recorded just two of my eight laps.

Last year I rode with friends from The Bike Lane and at the start of the second lap my Garmin mount broke, my Garmin went flying, and I had to retrieve the Garmin and lost contact with my group.

Today, well, today was going to be different. Meeting up with some riders from The Bike Lane, we were planning to average 20 mph over the course. But we were at the back of nearly 1,000 riders at the start. On Lap One we had to pick and weave past slower riders, until we came to the turn around near the Iwo Jima Memorial. There a girl had crashed, the police were attending to her and one line, not lane, got by. It seemed we spent about four minutes with a foot on the ground.

Adam Lewandowski kitting up

Adam Lewandowski, James Mortson, Dennis McDonald, Rich McAfee, and I formed a “team” which was going well. After a slow first lap due to a bottleneck when the girl crashed, we hit the second 10 mile loop in 22 mph. I looked down and saw we had recovered and were averaging 20 mph for the ride.

Dennis McDonald

There were times the heat was starting to get to me. Almost from the start I wondered how long I could hang with the big boys – all racers for The Bike Lane. But I hung.
We finished the fourth lap and Rich needed a “natural break.” James and I continued on although we soft pedaled. We decided to pull over for water at the Air Force Memorial. As I was climbing the hill I flatted. That made my decision easy.

But then I blew the repair. I used my one tube and one CO2 cartridge and it popped. I popped.

At this point, having ridden 45 miles (4.5 laps) and thus having qualified for a silver medal, I was pleased we had averaged 20 mph. I had had enough. I looked for a SAG vehicle to take me back to my van. but I found none.

James Mortson and Rich McAfee

I started to walk. As I walked I thought about where I was going. Back to the van. And back in the van was — a spare wheel. I did a quick time calculation. If I ran to the van and made a quick wheel change, I could get back on course and finish the six laps in the required three hours and earn a gold medal. I took off my cleated shoes and ran barefoot to the van.

Back on course I rode the last 1.5 laps at 18.7 mph, solo. On the last lap I probably passed 100 cyclists and got passed but no one. Well, not technically true. I cramped in the hamstring with two miles to go and while soft pedaling someone passed me. Once I learned how to not make it worse, I pedaled by him.

I came in, picked up my medal, and had time to reflect. 

I wore my FUCANCER kit today. Perhaps any other kit and I would have accepted my fate that a flat that ended my day. But when you represent FUCANCER you do not quit.

 The first 45 miles until the flat.

Bats in the Belfry

ALTOONA, PENNSYLVANIA

Yesterday, on my way from Virginia to Punxsutawney, Pa., for a wedding, I stopped at the Logan Valley Mall for a “quick” ride up the mountain. I always love the climb and it’s always just enough to make me wonder if I will have to dismount and walk.

A wonderful surprise was new blacktop. This is so much better than three years ago when in September they put down a chip and tar surface. It was treacherous descending in all that loose gravel. But today was fresh blacktop. Sweet!

A bit chilly, 66 degrees, and I could have used arm warmers at the top, but didn’t have time to contemplate my choice. At the top I rode one mile to make sure I had 10 miles in so I could hit 20 on the round trip. Then I decided that it was shorter going back to turn around and ride that great black top than to continue over to Sugar Run Road. I don’t know if it was or not.

Beautiful road surface and still going UP
Glenwhite Road
But I had a nice descent. It was 55 minutes up and 16 minutes down.
I was able to come back today. For more.
Mid 50s and overcast at the start. Wheels down at 10:00 a.m. with a forecast of 70% chance of rain by 1:00 p.m. I wasn’t sure that I would want to do the long route (70 miles) that I planned and would play it by ear.
My Garmin was finicky. Although I had mapped out a “Three Church Ride,” it seemingly wasn’t calling out the turns for me so I was left to guess. Instead of climbing to the top of Frankstown Road via some neighborhood streets I found Garmin routing me around the mountain. Maybe it was smarter than me after all.

Canoe Creek Church
I rode out Scotch Valley Road and followed the signs to Canoe Creek State Park. Seeing an old church and cemetery I almost kept pedaling but the building next door, a garage, caught my eye with its handicapped parking. Out in the country, a country garage, and there was a handicapped spot.
That didn’t make a lot of sense to me unless this was a location people came to. And it was.

The church was the former Canoe Creek United Methodist Church.

In 1958 my father followed his calling to enter the ministry and as a student pastor was assigned to East Freedom with a three church charge. Canoe Creek, then Evangelical United Brethren Church (E.U.B.), was one of those three churches.

No longer an active church, it has been taken over by up to 20,000 bats. And people come here in the evenings to watch the bats.

Getting back on the road I saw a couple of cyclists go through the intersection I was approaching. After turning back onto Scotch Valley road I could see four cyclists riding about 300 meters in front of me. I tried to bridge to them.
As the line of four went up a hill, I caught them as one, Sean, who was on his first ride coming off shoulder surgery, was dropping back. We briefly continued as four and I wondered how long it would be before they realized they had four but it wasn’t the same four.
Sean and Anna
I started rolling with them then introduced myself. All kitted up in green of the Spokes N Skis shop, I met Bryan, Anna, Richard, and Sean.* Finding myself next to Anna I asked her how far they were going and she said they were 10 miles into a 30-mile loop returning to Hollidaysburg.

Perfect. For me.

I decided to ride with them and they were great hosts. They showed me the foot of Locke Mountain Road while we stayed in the valley. Bryan offered to show me the roads to my mapped out route but I told him the roads will always be here – I’d rather stay with the riders today. And we did.
Bryan
Bryan and I chatted, as did Rich and I, and I told them how much I love riding in Altoona. I even reminisced about riding three years ago while battling cancer. Although at first I couldn’t remember all the names, I mentioned the Stacy as one of the riders I met. Joel and Richard were the other two riders. Bryan couldn’t recall a Stacy.

Our formal ride of four, or five to include me, ended at Hollidaysburg. I said goodbye to Bryan and Anna, who will be married on September 15, then Richard and I pedaled on towards Altoona. Once back at the Mall where I parked I decided I could squeeze in a mountain ride too and headed up Sugar Run Road for another 19 miles.

Richard and Anna
On my descent down the new blacktop of Glenwhite Road, I hit 48.5 mph but was disappointed I did not reach 50 mph. This one is a little tricky. You can fly coming down off the Wall but there is a curve of which you cannot see the transition. The mind says to brake but I have been through this before and know I can lean through it.
I braked.
Just a touch. But that was just enough I’m sure to keep me from doing 50. I have to try again.

___
*Bryan Caporuscio, Anna Gauriloff, and Richard Fiore.

EPILOGUE – After returning home, Bryan remembered Stacy — Richard’s wife. He liked that I love the roads around Altoona and that I love to ride. He also stated that Stacy always wondered what happened to that guy with cancer who encouraged her while climbing up the wall in August, 2009, and was quite please I joined their group ride.